This is the first of a number of interviews and conversations with our prized volunteers and participants from the Hub. The idea is to give people thinking about volunteering or joining our activities a feel of what it means to be: a member of the Hub, a cyclist, a walker, a volunteer.
As anybody who knows Ian would expect, this ‘interview’ consisted of a number of questions but in the course of the conversation that ensued, only three formal questions were asked! I have structured Ian’s thoughts and insights under headers as well as the questions we got round to answering.
Opening Question: Which one feature of cycling has had the biggest impact on your life?
Ian: “The most recent impact I’ve received from cycling was in my recovery from surgery. I had cancer of my kidney and had to have an operation to remove it. Because I was a cyclist I was fit and healthy and my anaesthetist guaranteed me I would be out in 3 days. Sure enough I was!”
Now the conversation followed the switchbacks in Ian’s train of thought:
“I don’t really like walking much but cycling is great and keeps you fit, although I don’t do it to keep fit. The solo side to cycling is my favourite part of it. Going out on your own is always an adventure and it clears your mind and is just great! To go through the countryside faster than walking but slower than a car is the right speed. You can see so much more. And I love the simplicity of it.”
His enjoyment for bike simplicity includes bike mechanics. Ian has cycled in on a beautiful old style racer – I wish I could remember the exact name of it – full of enthusiasm for the mechanics of it and the paraffin lamp attachments (really cool!). Alongside loving to ride bikes, he loves engineering and mechanics and recently built a bike for £18! That was the outcome of his personal ‘perfectly cheap project’ as he puts it. That and the bikes he’s owned for thirty years (with no sign of age) are the proof that cycling doesn’t have to be expensive and any investments that you do make can go a long way. His most expensive bike costs less than the exhaust system in his motorbike!
Question Two: The Hub couldn’t survive without volunteers. Why do you give up your time to it?
“Because I’m sad! Well me and Caz have been members of the Hub from the beginning and I started volunteering after I had my knee done and I was out of work. It’s just to put something back because I love Stockton.”
On the subject of inclusivity:
“I also love the inclusivity of cycling and volunteering for the Hub supports that. When you ride a bike nobody knows who you are or what you do and everyone becomes the same – apart from the bike snobs. It breaks barriers because you are no longer dressed in a suit or your workmans clothes and we have all sorts of people coming together and enjoying cycling together.”
“On that point I don’t understand why people worry about joining a cycle group and holding people up. People don’t worry about that on a park run so why worry about it cycling.”
“I used to enjoy organising rides fortnightly for people at my workplace going out to Ripley. A lot of people there didn’t have much interest in things but we did the rides for a good while and it was great. That’s what I like doing too – getting people into cycling.”
Some swear words have been removed from the dialogue.
Many thanks to Ian for complying with my questions. If anybody fancies taking the hot seat over the next two weeks please get in touch.